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‘Pingdemic’ to cost small businesses £10,000 in lost earnings

2-minute read

Conor Shilling

17 August 2021

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The ‘pingdemic’ is set to cost more than one in 10 small business owners £10,000 in lost revenue due to staff shortages and enforced closures.

This is on top of an average expected loss of £22,461 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Simply Business survey of over 500 small business owners has revealed the impact of the ‘pingdemic’ on staffing levels and business recovery.

We also found out whether they think app updates and changes to isolation rules will improve the situation.

How has the ‘pingdemic’ affected small businesses?

A rise in NHS Test and Trace alerts for people to self-isolate has become a problem for many small businesses trying to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite restrictions being eased on 19 July, the NHS Test and Trace app sent out a record 689,313 ‘pings’ for people to self-isolate in the week up to 21 July.

This has led to many small business owners having to close temporarily due to staff being unable to come to work, as well as lower levels of business from customers who are self-isolating.

Self-isolation alerts making recovery more difficult

Alongside 12 per cent of small businesses expecting to lose £10,000 in revenue due to the ‘pingdemic’, our survey also revealed that:

  • 74 per cent believe the NHS Test and Trace app is having a negative impact on their recovery
  • 16 per cent were forced to stop trading for a period as a result of the ‘pingdemic’
  • 32 per cent of small business owners were directly impacted by the 'pingdemic' – having either been pinged themselves, or had reduced staff due to self-isolation

Could changes to self-isolation rules help small businesses?

Since 16 August, people in England and Northern Ireland who are double jabbed no longer have to quarantine if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Instead of having to self-isolate for 10 days, they’re advised to take a PCR test.

At the start of August, in response to the ‘pingdemic’, the NHS Test and Trace app in England and Wales was tweaked so fewer people would need to self-isolate after being identified as a close contact with a positive case.

The app now looks for close contacts from two days before someone without symptoms tests positive, instead of five days.

Almost a third (31 per cent) of small business owners we spoke to think these updates will reduce the number of alerts, but maybe only temporarily.

The ‘pingdemic’ has also heightened over half (52 per cent) of small business owners’ fears of a fourth wave of the virus and future lockdowns.

Download our report on the impact of Covid-19

This article focuses on how the ‘pingdemic’ has affected the self-employed, but you can find out more about the financial impact of Covid-19 on small businesses by downloading our report.

Get your free 2021 report on the impact of coronavirus

Download your free in-depth report. Find out more about the cost of coronavirus and overall business confidence.

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Helping small businesses to bounce back

The 'pingdemic' is proving another obstacle for small businesses in their recovery from the impact of Covid-19, according to Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business.

“Making up 99 per cent of all UK businesses and contributing trillions of pounds to the UK economy, small businesses are central to our collective recovery. Put simply, we need them to bounce back.”

“It’s important to remember that behind every small business is a small business owner – many of whom have suffered both financially and mentally over the last 18 months.”

That’s why we want to help one entrepreneur get back on track with a £25,000 grant to help start, grow, or revive their small business as part of our Business Boost campaign.

Why is resilience so important for small business owners?

Watch our interview with rugby legend and Business Boost ambassador Gareth Thomas, who shares his lessons on strength, ambition, and big dreams, explaining how they can be applied to small business.

Has your small business been affected by the ‘pingdemic’? Let us know in the comments below.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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